DuPont and ADM say the new materials breakthrough will be applicable to a number of industries, particularly plastics packaging
DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) and agricultural processor, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), have announced a breakthrough in the development of a new technology that they say opens up “vast” offerings in bio-based materials for packaging, textiles, engineering plastics and many other industries.
The companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications.
It has long been sought-after and researched, but has not yet been available at commercial scale and at reasonable cost. The new FDME technology is a more efficient and simple process than traditional conversion approaches and results in higher yields, lower energy usage and lower capital expenditures.
“This molecule is a game-changing platform technology. It will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100 percent renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries,” said Simon Herriott, Global Business Director for Biomaterials at DuPont.
One of the first polymers under development utilising FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a novel polyester also made from DuPont’s proprietary Bio-PDO (1,3-propanediol).
The companies say PTF is a 100-percent renewable and recyclable polymer that, when used to make bottles and other beverage packages, “substantially improves” gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters. This, they added, makes PTF a great choice for customers in the beverage packaging industry looking to improve the shelf life of their products.
“We are excited about the potential FDME has to help our customers reach new markets and develop better-performing products, all made from sustainable, bio-based starting materials,” said Kevin Moore, President, Renewable Chemicals at ADM. “
With their strong leadership in the biomaterials industry, DuPont is a great partner that can help us bring this product to market for our customers.”
ADM and DuPont are taking the initial step in the process of bringing FDME to market by moving forward on the scale-up phase of the project. The two companies are planning to build an integrated 60 tonne-per-year demonstration plant in North America, which they say will provide potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research.